U.S. Child Obesity Levels Are Not Falling After All

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Despite some promising reports in recent years, it seems the U.S. childhood obesity problem is not turning a corner.

That’s the finding of a study published online Feb. 26 in Pediatrics showing that hopes of a turnaround may have been premature.

Over the past few years, studies have found that childhood obesity rates seemed to be leveling off — and even decreasing among preschool children. Based on the new study, however, the good news was short-lived.

Looking at the years 1999 to 2016, the researchers found no evidence of any sustained improvements in childhood obesity rates, for kids of any age. Instead, the long-range view showed a “continued upward trend.”

And what of the decrease in obesity among the nation’s youngest children? That seems to have disappeared. In 2015-2016, almost 14 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds were mildly obese — up from 9 percent in 2013-2014.

“So maybe it was going down before, but now it’s increasing again,” said lead researcher Asheley Skinner, an associate professor at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

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SOURCES: Asheley Cockrell Skinner, Ph.D., associate professor, population health sciences, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; David Ludwig, M.D., co-director, New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Mass.; Pediatrics, Feb. 26, 2018, online

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